How to get a Job at Summer Camp
You’ve made what I believe will be one of the best decisions of your life: you’ve decided to work at summer camp! Now, you need to know, how do you land the perfect summer job. First, check out this list of things you need to know about working at camp. Now, check out these tips for how to land that perfect job!
Start in January
January seems very early to be thinking about your summer break plans, but this is when camps start doing their hiring. This will give you the greatest chance of getting in with that perfect camp before they finish hiring for the season. Remember, the best camps have staff that come back year after year, and may have more than half of their positions already filled before they even glance at people who have not already worked for them.
Use the campstaff website.
This one is a little tricky because you don’t use the site exactly as they suggest. Fill out your profile, yes! But don’t sit around waiting for camps to call you. The camps that will call you are the camps that are desperate for employees. You’ll get a job, but it may not be the job you want. Finding a match for you is just as important as finding a match for a child.
Decide what you want in a camp
Do you want to teach all girls, all boys, or mixed ages? Do you want a camp that caters to children with autism? Do you want a religious camp, or a secular one? Do you want a camp that focuses on one thing, or one that provides a variety of activities? These are the types of options you can find on the campstaff website. Do a search. Now the trick is, you do not want to just forward them your campstaff profile. About 90% of them will ignore it.
Go to the camp website
Use a search engine to find the website for the camps you are considering based on your campstaff search. Read a little more about the camp. Try to get a feel for the place. Look at what activities they teach. Can you teach one? Do they hire general cabin counselors or just specialty staff? Look at what their specific requirements are for counselor positions. Some will require you be 21 years old for positions such as activity leader, or driver. Others will only require that you have finished your first year of college and be 18. Specialty academic camps may require a teaching certificate for some positions.
Fill out their application
Most camps have an application on their website. Fill it out completely and honestly. Do not say that you can lead an activity that you really are only comfortable being a secondary teacher in. This can only lead to trouble. You usually have to provide 3-5 references and answer a few essay questions. Type the essay questions in a word processor then copy/paste it into the application. This allows you to easily check spelling and grammar and word count, which is usually specified.
Rinse and Repeat
I filled out about 50 applications and scored 5 interviews and 4 job offers the year I worked at a camp I really wanted to be at. Fill out a lot of applications. Do this when you are awake and perky, not when you are about to fall asleep at night. Finally, wait. It might take a week for anyone to contact you.
Nail the Interview
Prepare questions ahead of time such as “what would you do for a child who is homesick?” or “what would you do with a child who is bullying another child?” as well as more typical interview questions. Try to think of things that are relevant to camp, and try to answer with experiences with children if you can. Most important is to be honest. Also, it helps to think of questions to ask ahead of time so that when they ask you if you have questions, you sound prepared. Think of things that really matter to you, such as counselor/camper ratios. One surprise I had was that every Friday the camp I worked at served fish for lunch, and I am horribly allergic to fish. Now you wait. I had one camp offer me a job on the spot in the interview. I had another I needed to wait almost 3 weeks to hear from. Be patient. Don’t forget to write thank you e-mails to everyone who interviews you.
Accept the best offer you get
Don’t forget to write thank you letters to all of the camps you do not accept, and write thank you letters (or even buy a little present!) for the people who wrote recommendation letters for you.
Now, relax, do your best in school this semester, and wait for the hardest job you’ll ever love!